Texas district responds to protests against Liz Fagen’s hire

A day after announcing former Douglas County School District Superintendent Liz Fagen would take the helm of the 39,000-student Humble (TX) Independent School District, school board officials are trying to tamp down protests against her hiring.

The board announced Tuesday that Fagen, the embattled superintendent of the Douglas County (CO) school district, would arrive in Humble in July. According to Houston news, she is replacing a retiring superintendent who has been in that role since 2001.

At a base salary of $273,000 per year, Fagen was the highest-paid school superintendent in Colorado. Her salary at Humble has not been disclosed. The Humble board is expected to formally approve her hiring at its June 14 meeting.

Parents and teachers in Douglas County celebrated her departure Tuesday and Wednesday on social media.

RELATED: DougCo Superintendent quits for Texas gig. Hundreds of Texas protest Liz Fagen’s hire

As Douglas County parents and teachers celebrated, the Humble Board of Education heard from thousands of residents that they don’t want Fagen, either. A petition on change.org from a Humble parent, asking the board to reconsider their decision, now has 1,900 signatures in roughly 24 hours.

Wednesday, the district’s board responded with a lengthy letter, justifying her hiring and letting residents know they were aware of the controversies surrounding Fagen and the Douglas County school district.

Fagen was one of 43 applicants for the position, the letter explained. The list was whittled down to seven for interviews, and then to three finalists, including Fagen, who was then selected as the sole finalist for the job. The letter said three school board members then traveled to Douglas County to meet with principals, teachers, district administrators, school board members, and business and community members.

“Our School Board was well informed on all aspects related to Dr. Fagen’s candidacy. We are aware of the posts from Colorado on our district’s social media page last night and today…none of the comments posted were a surprise to us, as we have done extensive research” on all of the finalists, the letter continued. The district’s Facebook page garnered more than 500 comments on Fagen’s hiring in the hours following the announcement.

As to the controversial policies of the Douglas County School Board, the letter from the Humble District said they respect the right of DougCo to pursue policies they believe are in the best interest of staff and students. “That said, we want to clear up any perception that our selection of Dr. Fagen implies that we are aligned or interested” in those policies.

The letter ended by noting the board is excited to partner with Fagen on leading the Humble school district.

 

Photo credit: Douglas County School District

has been a political journalist since 1998. She covered the state capitol for the Silver & Gold Record from 1998 to 2009 and for The Colorado Statesman in 2010-11 and 2013-14. Since 2010 she also has covered the General Assembly for newspapers in northeastern Colorado. She was recognized with awards from the Colorado Press Association for feature writing and informational graphics for her work with the Statesman in 2012.

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